Sigmund Ringeck : "Commentaries", c1440

Notes on Ringeck's Commentaries

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Backgrounder: It is thought that Sigmund Ringeck was a fechtmeister to Albrecht, Pfalzgraf of the Rhine and Duke of Bavaria, however, it is unclear at this time which Albrecht it was! The relationship between Ringeck and Liechtenauer remains unclear in terms of his ability to create commentaries on Liechtenauer's secret text. Liechtenauer didn't actually publish a fechtbüch however, his teachings live on through the written text of the next generation, most notably Döbringer and later, Ringeck. Döbringer's manuscript actually has more of Liechtenauer's verses and an entirely different glossa as compared to Ringeck's work.

However, Ringeck's manuscript provides a great deal of illumination with respect to combat with the longsword. Ringeck would reproduce Liechtenauer's verses in his manuscript, followed by his (Ringeck) commentaries on these verses. The orginal Liechtenauer verses are found primarily in the longsword, mounted combat and sword & buckler segments. The section that focuses on grappling ringen may have been written by someone else, in that there are no Liechtenauer's verses quoted in these sections.

Click to view SLUB's online presentation of Ringeck's manuscriptThe library has assembled a full colour presentation in detail of Ringeck's manuscript and is available to the public for online viewing. Click on the SLUB logo on the left to access these pages. In sant Jorgen namen höbt an die kunst dess fechtens die gedicht vnd gemacht hat Johanns Liechtenawer - Mscr.Dresd.C.487

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click to view text for the introduction 1.0 Plates 2r-9v: Hie hept sich an die ritterlich kunst des langen schwerts
Ringeck's introductory paragraph entitled "The Knightly Art of the Longsword" is followed by Liechtenauer's long sword verses in the next section. Liechtenauer didn't actually publish a fechtbüch but his teachings were written by the next generation of meisters beginning with Dobringer. Liechtenauer's verses were cryptic so that his teachings were protected and therefore not generally spread by anyone claiming mastery of fencing. Ringeck possessed the code with which to formulate translations of the verses through his commentaries. Ringeck discusses the importance of footwork, and the importance of following a strike from the right side with the right foot, and following a strike from the left side with the left foot. He also discusses the concepts of before "vor" and after "nach".
click to view text for section 2.0 2.0 Plates 10v-48r: Liechtenauer's Long Sword Verses and Commentaries
Broken up repetitions of long sword verses with Ringeck's commentaries. According to the Liechtenauer's verses, he advocates only fighting from the four guards, however, in the verses, he does mention the "long point" which may be the position one would end up in after thrusting with extended arms. The guards are described as those that maintain a threatening position to the opponent at all times.
click to view text for section 3.0 3.0 Plates 49r-54r: Long Sword Verses and Commentaries
Additional techniques for longsword not based on Liechtenauer's verses. This section expands on the original Liechtenauer's four guards, because by the time Ringeck wrote this manuscript, other guards appeared since Liechtenauer's time.

Ringeck discusses the schranckhut which is a way to set aside strikes with the krumphau. The schranckhut has a left and right side variations. Assuming you are standing with your right leg forward, hold the longsword so that the hilt is in front of your chest and point hanging toward the groun on your left side at roughly 450 angle. In this position, your hands will be crossed. On the other hand, with the left leg forward, the point pointing downward again on your right side, the hands would not be crossed. He also discusses the nebenhut which is similar to the familiar "tail guard".

click to view text for section 4.0 4.0 Plates 54r-55v: Sword and Buckler Verses and Commentaries
Ringeck discusses six angles of strikes as they relate to the sword and buckler. The first strike from above to the face is met with one's sword positioned inside the buckler against the thumb and raising the combination upwards to the face to parry taking the sword and buckler downwards (The translation of this particular verse is somewhat "shaky").

Ringeck moves on to describe the manner of parrying other angles of strikes with the sword and buckler, and also describes how to employ the buckler in deploying 1/2-sword techniques.

click to view text for section 5.0 5.0 Plates 55v-59v: More Liechtenauer's Long Sword Verses and Commentaries
Some additional repetition of some of Liechtenauer's verses with some additional (or alternative?) commentaries on Liechtenauer's meisterhau. Ringeck discusses the meisterhau which describe five strikes in the Liechtenauer's system which simulataneously defend against an enemy strike while striking at the same time, in other words, single-time. These are the zornhau (strike of wrath), krumphau (crooked strike), zwerchhau (cross strike), schielhau (squinting strike), and the scheitelhau (scalp strike). .
click to view text for section 6.0 6.0 Plates 66r-77v: Ringen (Wrestling)
Wrestling techniques and counters. This section on wrestling and the following do not contain any Liechtenauer's verses and therefore, cannot be considered as Ringeck's commentaries. The section is comprised of descriptive text of various wrestling techniques. There is some indications that the entire Ringeck manuscript may not have been written by Ringeck given that he is mentioned only after the longsword verse only.
click to view text for section 7.0 7.0 Plates 78r-87v: More Ringen (Wrestling)
Other wrestling techniques ("Here begins some other..."). It is interesting to note that even at such an early period of Liechtenauer's teachings, he emphasized the importance of wrestling ringen as a fundamental requirement to fencing. He stated "...alles fechten kompt vom ringen..." which translates to all fencing comes from wrestling.
click to view text for section 8.0 8.0 Plates 88r-108r: Armoured Fighting and Commentaries
Armoured Fighting beginning: "In Saint George's name, here begins the Art" with foot combat in harness beginning with 90r.
click to view text for section 9.0 9.0 Plates 109r-123r: Mounted Combat and Commentaries
Liechtenauer's teachings (verses) are included in this section which covers instructions on the lance, mounted swordsmanship and wrestling on horseback.
click to view text for section 10.0 10.0 Plates 122r-126v: More Foot Combat and Commentaries
More foot combat in harness.

Copyright © 2001 Academy of European Medieval Martial Arts  (AEMMA)
Released: October 10, 2001 / Updated: October 25, 2009